Michael Jennings

General Question re: Body Length

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Is there any correlation to; "era" / location / school / " classical" model (i.e.: Strad/Amati/del Gesu / Stainer / etc)... based on general length of the body?

Seems that the majority of 4/4 fiddles that I look at on Tariso/Brompton's/Amati etc have a length of back in the 356mm to 364mm range, and that seems to span most areas of origin and time periods , at least most of the 18th century to present.

There is a much smaller group of 4/4s that are in the range of 352mm to 355mm range..... still 4/4 but "petite".

Is there any generalization regarding the smaller group regarding origin of design/model / local / school/ era?

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You can try saying some vague loose things:  Bresican work often was longish.   Cremona work varied from short to long, with many instruments smaller than modern standard.   19th century trade instruments, and therefore also modern standards tended to longish, including a broader willingness to accept long, and a rather sharp cut off for 'too short' that prejudices against traditional Cremona 'small violins', and many of their shorter '4/4' violins.

But none of that is particularly rock solid.

 

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I took the lengths of 13 posters I have, I didn't put in the 368 Maggini oddball, and the average is 352.8.  Stradivarius is on the high end with Rogeri and Montagnana. They average 354.6mm. Everyone else averages 350.7mm. 

French and Spanish ones are357-359mm, just like David said.  The copies are long.  

Ken

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What about plate shrinkage? Certainly a known phenomenon. Anyone have any estimates of how much in terms of over all length? Can we say on average that certain violins were 1-2 mm longer when built?

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1 hour ago, deans said:

What about plate shrinkage? Certainly a known phenomenon. Anyone have any estimates of how much in terms of over all length? Can we say on average that certain violins were 1-2 mm longer when built?

Shrinkage along the grain (i.e. length) is nil.  Crossgrain and tangential (thickness) is where you'd get shrinkage.  You could get instrument shrinkage lengthwise if the arching bows significantly.

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Del Gesù's violins are on the small side.

Some Del Gesùs are 351 back (measured in the top it's 349), as in the case of the Baltic (1731).

Violon the Diable 1734: 350.5.

Haddock 1734: 349.

King 1735: 351.5.

Many  with 352.

Some of the rare "bigs":

Vieuxtemps 1741: 354

Cannon: 1743: 354

Leduc 1745 (Del Gesù died in 1744...): 354

These violins are among the 25 violins on Biddulph's book. Most are in the 352 range. The biggest have 354. Del Gesù violins are a bit on the small side (but they have a wide model and deep ribs to compensate for that).

I saw a Cremonese violin by Giovanni Maria del Busseto here in our local orchestra with an Italian girl. A lovely small instrument, under 350, I think.

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For what it is worth, Luiz Bellini told me in all of his DG copies (or "inspired" copies) he lengthened the body length a few mm. I found it interesting that he distinctly pointed that out.

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That's probably the most interesting point.  We now have a strong bias against instruments shorter than 354mm, or perhaps 353.   That bias appears to have had no place in classical Cremona.  It's to the point that respected modern makers will sometimes 'correct' the body length when copying some of the greatest makers ever.

 

A few lengths (found from various sources on the web - so perhaps questionable)

 

339:

1683 Strad Cipriano (decorated)

 

344:

1680c Ruggieri

 

348:

1665 A Guarneri, 1666c Strad Aranyi, 1666c Strad Back

 

350:

1649 N Amati, 1667 Strad Jenkins, 1669 Strad Clisbee, 1675c Ruggieri, 1744 Del Gesu Ford

 

351: 

1648c N Amati, 1663 N Amati Count Pergen, 1668 A Guarneri, 1670 Ruggieri, 1671 Strad Oistrakh, 1731 Del Gesu Baltic, 1734c Del Gesu Prince Doria, 1735 Del Gesu Plowden, 1736 Bergonzi Segelman, 1741 Del Gesu Kochanski, 1743 Del Gesu Sauret

 

352:

1662 N Amati, 1665 A Guarneri, 1665 Ruggieri, 1670 Strad Sachs, 1672 Ruggieri, 1715 Strad Titian, 1734 Del Gesu Spagnoletti, 1734 Del Gesu Rode, 1737 Del Gesu Stern, 1740 Del Gesu Ysaye, 1742 Del Gesu Lord Wilton, 1743 Del Gesu Carrodus, 1744 Del Gesu Ole Bull

 

353:

1650c N Amati, 1664 N Amati Gillot, 1670c Strad Tullaye,  1685 GII Amati, 1693 Strad Gould, 1709 Strad Maiden, 1712c Strad Earl Spencer, 1714 Strad Da Vinci, 1717 Strad Gariel, 1725 Strad Chaconne, 1729 Strad Jack Benny, 1742 Del Geus Alard, 1744c Del Geus Sainton

 

 

Hey, but we know better than to make such small violins!!

 

 

 

(I'm sure some folks here on MN can correct and/or add to this list)

 

 

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27 minutes ago, scordatura said:

For what it is worth, Luiz Bellini told me in all of his DG copies (or "inspired" copies) he lengthened the body length a few mm. I found it interesting that he distinctly pointed that out.

I too have been making my DG-ish model 2 - 3 mm longer than original, as well as using the larger Strad models... with the idea that bigger body = bigger sound.  After (almost) completing a smaller (353mm) Strad P form model, I don't find anything small-sounding about it, and may re-think my strategy a bit.    Even with the oversimplified assumption of sound being proportional to area, the difference would be such a small fraction of a dB that nobody could possibly hear the difference.

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My question started out as, more or less, one of those "things that make you go Hmmmm?".

Based partially  on general browsing of auction lists, looking at body length, based primarily on my curiosity about an old, much repaired, fiddle I have of unknown origin that is on that smaller pallet 352mm. Finding that many of those listed that were under 355 tended to be older and attributed to the Italian schools.

 

The replies here have been much more interesting as a general education to the "evolution" of preferences regarding size etc.. Makes sense that volume would become more and more desirable as the music itself and the venues changed over time.

My "petite" has somewhat dark and sweet tone but is noticeably quieter than my teacher's fiddles or My new "Worm" from Don... A small and inadequate sample to be sure most especially in apparent quality of construction....

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